No need to beat around the proverbial bush I loved this film. It took the highlights of the Alabama Edmund Pettus Bridge march for equality and the struggle for civil rights nearly fifty years ago and turned it into a film masterpiece.
This amazing non-violent man, Dr. Martin Luther King, did things to improve the lives of millions; things that no one would or could have done and he did so in the face of humiliating provocation, hubristic insult and the crushing brutality by the forces of malevolence few could endure. He turned the other cheek for the haters to smash as well.
This film shows to those who knew him and to the youth who can only study about him the inspirational charisma he possessed. He brought hope to hopeless millions and changed centuries of misery’s darkness into the possibility of freedom’s light. He brought his power to a recalcitrant, mean and vicious slice of oppositional white power and galvanized a nation of all colors, religions, and creeds to his moral cause.
We saw, through the communicative media of the time, the Edmund Pettus Bridge walkers bludgeoned when they tried to cross it by white and Confederate flag-flying racists as Dr. King forged a path for those that walked with him toward a better life.
People say for all the world to hear malevolent and mendacious things whether there is evidence for it or not against the giants of men and women upon whose shoulders we stand for the progress of mankind.
The larger truth was that a David honed justice against a Goliath of Billy clubs and bats. “Selma” was a snap shot of that time. It was a time of attack dogs, fire hoses and police Billy clubs used on old men, old women, children and anything black (and sometimes white) that got in the way of a white life of privilege. Persons of color wanted to merely sit anywhere on a bus, anywhere in a movie theater, at any lunch counter or, indeed, the right to vote free of literacy tests no one could pass and poll taxes many not afford.
Dr. King helped extricate his people as the metaphorical Moses of Biblical antiquity allegedly led the slaves out of Egypt. He was historically huge and this film portrayed him as that. I do not care about his personal life that some scurrilously impugn nor do I care about small poetic justice historical error there may be in the film. I care about what Dr. King did for those who lived under the jackboot of a backward brutal south that tried to crush people of color for any invented reason they could think.
The movie, “Selma” was great. We who empathize with those who suffer injustice and who are on the side of the arc of justice as it bends towards it will love this film for the truth it brings.
The lessons, though, are for our time as well. Again the shouts of injustice fall on seemingly deaf ears. The deaths of innocent Black men whether at the site of a burning cross, at the base of a Poplar tree or at the hands of some present-day bully can be seen in our nation now. Voter suppression, intimidation and hardship with the most egregious “conservative” Supreme Court nullification of the most important part of the 1965 Voting Right Act exist in our time. They have now the blood on their hands that so many shed to attain what rightfully should be America’s promise to everyone. The efforts of Dr. King and those who followed cannot have been in vain.
On Martin Luther King Day I say rest in peace, Dr. King, and may you be for all time at the side of the God in whom you believed!